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Drone Debate; Super Bowl Blackout Revelations

Aired February 5, 2013 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Governor Chris Christie jokes about his weight, but Bill Clinton's former doctor calls the Republican a time bomb.

And the face of a long-lost king -- what scientists did with Richard III's newly found skull.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up first this hour, a rare look at the president's so-called kill list, his secret policy on drone attacks on United States citizens. One watchdog group calls it chilling, with very few limits on what the president can do.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, has the details on this controversial memo.

What's the latest, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it is a cold-blooded document. It spells out the government's right to kill you.


STARR (voice-over): It was in a CNN interview that President Obama defended his right to kill America citizens suspected of terrorist activity.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a legal justification for us to try to stop them from carrying out plots.

STARR: The case at issue, the 2011 killing of American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a senior al Qaeda operative in Yemen. But other Americans are aligned with al Qaeda, notably its communications chief, Adam Gadahn, who's on the most wanted list. The president insisted every American's legal rights are protected before they might be targeted for a kill.

OBAMA: They are subject to the protections of the Constitution and due process.

STARR: But in a leaked 2012 Justice Department memo, the administration spells out the legality of killing Americans overseas who are involved with al Qaeda, arguing it -- quote -- "does not require the United States to have clear evidence of a specific plot." Critics are alarmed.

CHRISTOPHER ANDERS, ACLU: All they have to show is a general view that somebody is, you know, is doing something bad and hasn't renounced that.

STARR: The leak is well timed. John Brennan goes before the Senate for confirmation as CIA director on Thursday, where he's expected to face tough questions about the targeted killings. As one of the chief architects of the controversial Obama program, he's defended the program in the past.

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: We conduct targeted strikes because they are necessary to mitigate an actual ongoing threat, to stop plots, prevent future attacks, and to save American lives.


STARR: Now a bipartisan group of senators led by Democrats wants to see a classified version of this document. There is a classified legal opinion, and they believe there's more information in there they want to review.

They say if they do not get it, some of the nominations for national security officials, perhaps even Brennan's, may be held up in the Senate -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara, thank you.

And later this hour, we will have a major debate on the president's policies on these drones' so-called kill list, including the killing of Americans. That's coming up later this hour.

Kate Bolduan is here. You have got some new details on what happened about 24 hours ago, almost exactly.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Exactly, on that amazing rescue and the amazing ending to that dramatic Alabama hostage situation.

We now know that law enforcement officers had a secret camera planted inside the bunker, where a 5-year-old boy was held captive for a week. The child named Ethan still is in the hospital under evaluation, a day after the rescue that left his kidnapper dead.

CNN's Martin Savidge is in Midland City, Alabama.

Martin, you have been putting together a new timeline of how this all played out.


In fact, we have also learned something new, that now, more than 24 hours after that successful rescue was carried out, authorities say that the site around the bunker where 5-year-old Ethan was held for a week still remains dangerous. They say that there were concerns about explosive devices or other threatening devices to agents in and around the area. Meanwhile, as you say, through a number of sources, we have been able to piece together a timeline as to how that rescue was carried out.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): For days, as the command center in a nearby church continued to grow, authorities remained in constant communication with Jimmy Lee Dykes, reportedly speaking through a pipe that ran into his bunker and also through a hatch in the bunker's roof.

Dykes even allowed authorities to deliver what were called comfort items through that hatch.

WALLY OLSON, DALE COUNTY SHERIFF: He allowed us to provide color books, medication, toys.

SAVIDGE: Dykes was said to be caring for the boy, providing even an electric heater and blankets to keep him warm, leaving the authorities to take the unusual step of thanking the boy's kidnapper.

OLSON: I want to thank him for taking care of our child.

SAVIDGE: All seemed well until Sunday afternoon, when negotiators noticed a change in Dykes's demeanor.

STEVE RICHARDSON, FBI: Within the past 24 hours, negotiations deteriorated.

SAVIDGE: According to law enforcement sources on the scene, a special camera was used to monitor what was going on inside the bunker.

Meanwhile, highly trained FBI hostage rescue teams like this one in an FBI training video took turns on standby around the clock. Sources say those rescue teams practiced their assault on a mockup of Dykes' bunker. Monday, authorities continue to monitor the change in Dykes' demeanor. Publicly, officials gave no indication, but for the first time hinted he had a motive.

OLSON: He has a story that is important to him, although it is very complex.

SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, a team from the (INAUDIBLE) fire department trained in collapsed building rescues was quietly put on alert and brought in. Then came the critical moment.

RICHARDSON: Mr. Dykes was observed -- was observed holding a gun.

SAVIDGE: That's when the HRT team struck.

Byron Martin is a neighbor.

BYRON MARTIN, NEIGHBOR: I heard a big boom and then I heard -- I believe I heard rifle shots.

RICHARDSON: FBI agents, fearing the child was in imminent danger, entered the bunker and rescued the child.

SAVIDGE: Sources tell CNN federal agents tossed flash bang grenades into the bunker to disorient Dykes. Then two or more agents dropped into the 6-by-8-foot underground space, shooting the gunman multiple times, killing him. Five-year-old Ethan was unharmed.

It was all over in seconds. For a clearly exhausted Dale County sheriff, Wally Olson, it was a relief.

OLSON: We appreciate everybody in law enforcement pulling together to get this job done. Thank you.


SAVIDGE: For law enforcement, it was considered to be a successful operation. Meanwhile, the public still being kept away from that area, primarily because not just the danger, but also the fact that all of that area is considered to be one big crime scene. It's going to take days to process, according to authorities -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, Martin.

And for the first time, we're hearing from Ethan's mother. Obviously, she was relieved, but what else was she saying?

SAVIDGE: Yes. She issued a statement. It was actually quite lengthy, but let me just read you just a little bit of it.

She says: "Ethan is safe and back in my arms. And I owe it all to some of the most compassionate people on Earth. I will never be able to repay those who helped bring Ethan home."

You can only imagine the kind of joy and emotion they are feeling right now -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Martin Savidge doing great work in Alabama for us this evening. Martin, thank you so much.

And tonight on "ANDERSON COOPER 360," he's taking a look at the psychological toll on a child who has been abducted. Anderson will talk to Ed Smart, the father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart. I'm sure you all remember that amazing story as well. That's coming up tonight at 8:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

BLITZER: Let's get to the Super Bowl blackout. New information coming in, including new evidence that Superdome officials knew in advance that there was a chance of failure with the power supply.

Our Brian Todd is New Orleans. He's been digging on this story.

What else are you learning, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have got new information just coming in tonight about power fluctuations during Beyonce's rehearsals in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, and, as you mentioned, new information on widespread concerns over the power supply several weeks leading up to the event.


TODD (voice-over): In the months leading up to Super Bowl XLVII, there were worries and warnings among engineers and Superdome officials about the stadium's power system.

That's according to memos and letters obtained by CNN from the attorney for the Superdome's management group. October 15, 2012, a memo from Pat Tobler, construction consultant for the Superdome, refers to transient spikes and loads in the system that had previously occurred.

(on camera): The concern, whether the connection point from the grid from the power supplier, Entergy, to the Superdome was reliable. This memo said a test determined that the power feeder line had some decay and had a chance of failure.

(voice-over): A letter five days before that from an outside engineer hired by the Superdome said based on test results, the Superdome's main and only electrical feed are not sufficiently reliable to support the high-profile event schedule. That letter warned of the loss of events and financial liability to the Dome's managers.

CYNTHIA HEDGE-MORRELL, NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCIL: And in response to that, Entergy and Superdome services constructed a whole new vault so that the concerns that were brought out in those memos were addressed. We will have the analysis and the data on Friday hopefully.

TODD (on camera): Do you know if the vault functioned properly?

HEDGE-MORRELL: I don't have that information right now. That's why the company that that equipment belongs to, they're coming in to analyze their -- their equipment.

TODD (voice-over): A vault is the structure that houses switching gear for power feed lines. City Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge- Morrell has called an emergency meeting for the key players for this Friday.

According to minutes of Superdome managers meetings obtained by CNN, hundreds of thousands of dollars were allocated to upgrade the feeder lines into the Dome. And one memo says the work was completed around December 18.

So, what's the culprit? It could be a switch gear, which is like a circuit breaker. Entergy says one switch gear tripped due to an abnormality. They don't yet know what. As intended, the breaker shut power on one of the lines, killing power to half the Superdome.

Power was rerouted to the Superdome through an auxiliary line, but all the systems needed to be rebooted before the power came online and the game could resume.

And there's new information that power fluctuated during rehearsals for pop star Beyonce's halftime show. In an e-mail to CNN, the NFL says: "There were some fluctuations in the frequency of the power supply, but not in the amount of the power supplied to the building and no mass power outages." The NFL says that's why they decided to have Beyonce's actual halftime show on a separate power system.

DOUG THORNTON, SUPERDOME MANAGEMENT: Yes, we had a couple of fuses blown, there were a couple of circuits that were overloaded, but it had nothing to do with this power outage. It was totally unrelated.


TODD: Doug Thornton says, those are common occurrences when you're dealing with outside show producers who are not familiar with the circuitry of the building. We have been trying for a couple of days now to get Beyonce's representatives to say anything to us about the rehearsals or about the power outages. We have not heard from them -- Wolf and Kate.

BLITZER: Has there been a decision to bring in an outside entity, some sort of group to dig into this whole thing and find out what actually happened?

TODD: They announced that today, Wolf. The Super Bowl's managers, plus that power company, Entergy, have announced they're going to bring in a third-party independent expert to get to the root of this problem. Not sure who that's going to be yet, but they are bringing in an independent person or group.

BLITZER: Got to learn lessons to make sure it never, ever happens again at a Super Bowl.

Brian, thanks very much.

BOLDUAN: A new attempt today by Republicans to improve their image after very disappointing election losses. One GOP leader thinks he knows the way to give his party, I guess we could call it, an extreme makeover.

Let's bring in our chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, for more on this.

Dana, what's the plan?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kate, this is not the first time Eric Cantor has tried to lead House Republicans into a new message. But this time, the attempt that he's making is to have a goal of rebranding Republicans with a softer, gentler image.


BASH (voice-over): Feel-good buzzwords.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Health, happiness and prosperity.

BASH: Issues that resonate with everyday Americans.

CANTOR: Education, health care, innovation, and job growth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Extreme makeover.

BASH: This is House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's GOP makeover.

(on camera): Why do the House Republicans need an extreme makeover?

CANTOR: You know, I'm not agreeing with the statement we need an extreme makeover. But what I think is that there's a lot of lessons to be learned from the last election.

BASH (voice-over): One of those lessons, toning down harsh GOP language that alienated key voters, especially Latinos. Listen to Cantor on immigration.

CANTOR: And I wouldn't be here if this country wasn't welcoming to my grandparents who fled religious persecution in Russia. So there is that and the compassion for the families that are here who frankly, many of whom have become part of the fabric of this country.

BASH: But when it comes to controversial policy changes, he won't go there.

(on camera): Senator Rubio supports a path to citizenship, as long as border security is addressed first. Do you support that?

CANTOR: Again, I want to see where the talks in the House and the Senate lead.

BASH (voice-over): In fact, Cantor's new push turns out to be long on compassionate rhetoric and support on new specific policy proposals, though he did open the door a bit to strengthening background checks on guns.

CANTOR: I am for making sure that we increase the quality of information in the database that is in existence already.

BASH: Big picture, Cantor is trying to rebrand by reworking GOP rhetoric.

(on camera): Has the language or the message of your party over the past couple of years in all candor turned some voters off?

CANTOR: I'm a father, I'm a husband. I have to deal with struggles just like a lot of parents have to. Right?

BASH involve Almost as if, on cue, Cantor's phone rings.

CANTOR: It's all about -- that's my daughter.

Sweetie, we're...


BASH: Oh, she's face timing?

CANTOR: That's Dana Bash on CNN. See, I have got to go and turn the phone off. Hello?



BASH: Now, Wolf, most Democrats released statements reacting to Cantor's new push with snarky statements, saying that they believe that Cantor is just talking about more of the same. But one senior Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, said that if Republicans in the House match their agenda to Cantor's words, he said this Congress could surprise people with how productive it can be -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dana, thanks very, very much. We will stay on top of this story.

BOLDUAN: A softer, gentler image. That was a cute moment with Eric Cantor there.

Still ahead, you may have seen Chris Christie joke about his weight on late-night TV, but Bill Clinton's former doctor has some choice words for the New Jersey governor, especially if he wants to run for president.


DR. CONNIE MARIANO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: And I'm a physician more than I'm a Democrat or Republican, and I worry about this man dying in office.



BLITZER: The New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, he's certainly very, very popular right now. He's a star in the Republican Party, but he also doesn't shy away from those so-called fat jokes.

BOLDUAN: Those so-called fat jokes, that's right.

In fact, the Republican poked fun at himself and at his size during an appearance on the David Letterman show last night.

BLITZER: Very funny stuff.

BOLDUAN: Very funny stuff.

That got people talking once again about Christie's presidential prospects. But a former White House doctor is warning that Christie, she fears, may die in office if he does not take care of himself.

Let's bring in our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, for more.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She's not laughing about this.

BOLDUAN: She was not laughing about this.

ACOSTA: He was very funny last night.

BLITZER: She's very serious.

ACOSTA: She's very serious about this.

Chris Christie may be able to take the punchlines about his waistline, but the New Jersey governor up for reelection this year and a potential candidate in 2016, there is a question facing him and that is how long he can laugh all of this off. A former White House doctor that we talked to earlier today described Christie's health as a time bomb.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Sitting down with late night talk show host David Letterman, Chris Christie tried to make light of a heavy subject.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": I have made jokes about you, not just one or two, not just ongoing here or there, intermittent. But --


ACOSTA: In a sign the popular New Jersey Governor may be weighing a bid in 2016, Christie also attempted to give himself a clean bill of health.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Basically the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen in your life.

ACOSTA: But it's no laughing matter to Dr. Connie Mariano.

MARIANO: I worry that he may have a heart attack, he may have a stroke. It's almost like a time bomb waiting to happen, unless he addresses those issues before he went to office.

ACOSTA: Mariano, a former White House physician who helped then- President Bill Clinton with his own battle of the bulge, wants Christie to run, preferably on a treadmill.

MARIANO: I'm a Republican. So, I like Chris Christie a lot. I want him to run. I just want him to lose weight. I'm a physician more than a Democrat or Republican. And I worry about this man dying in office.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I want to see you all moving, all right?

ACOSTA: Dr. Mariano says Michelle Obama's anti-obesity program is a better example of a winning campaign, despite conservative critics who point to the president downing the occasional burgers or beer in his spare time.

OBAMA: We have the ideas and we have the desire to start solving America's childhood obesity problem.

ACOSTA: But the nation is already getting a preview of a corpulent commander-in-chief later this spring when the Washington National's unveils its latest running president, William Howard Taft, who weighed in at more than 300 pounds. Taft was so huge he once famously got stuck in the presidential bathtub.

AD NARRATOR: Christie threw his weight around as U.S. attorney.

ACOSTA: As for Christie whose size became an issue in the last campaign and is up for reelection.

CHRISTIE: By doctor continues to warn me that my luck is going to run out relatively soon. So believe me it's something I'm very conscious of.

ACOSTA: He indicated to reporters he has a plan to lose those extra pounds.

CHRISTIE: There is a plan. Whether it will be successful or not, you all will be able to notice.


ACOSTA: Christie is still being coy about whether he will run for the White House in 2016. But there's a more pressing matter for the governor. And that is his own doctors he said there said he could run out of luck if he doesn't start losing some weight soon.

But just a few weeks ago, he was saying, Wolf and Kate, that he is more ready, he will be more ready in 2016 should he decide to run. But I think the question is whether he weighs more or less than he does right now. You know, as we saw four years ago...


ACOSTA: Yes, that's right. Mike Huckabee, when he ran, he was losing weight he was running in 2008. When he decided not to run in 2012, he was starting to gain weight again. And, sometimes, you can sort of read the tea leaves there.

BLITZER: Yes, Mike Huckabee, when he was governor of Arkansas, he lost 100 pounds exercising, running, eating properly, gained some of it back, but he did lose 100 pounds.

ACOSTA: He did. And I remember when he was gearing up to make that decision for 2012. It looked like he was starting to put some of that weight back on, and I thought, hmm, maybe not this time. BOLDUAN: So if Chris Christie really we start seeing him slimming down, then there is our first indicator of a presidential run. Is that what you're saying?

ACOSTA: I think that's a good sign.

BOLDUAN: All right, Jim.

BLITZER: We will see what happens. See if that extra weight -- if he's 100 pounds overweight, let's say that puts an enormous amount of stress on your heart.

ACOSTA: And even if he doesn't run, I think it's just better for him either way.



BOLDUAN: Jim Acosta, thank you so much.

ACOSTA: You bet.

BOLDUAN: An Olympic skiing champ is sidelined by an accident. stand by to see her downhill disaster.

Also, a bizarre and scary video showing an American city in flames. What is going on?



BLITZER: We're also hearing some sharp criticism of the president's policy on using drones to kill Americans.

Would the outcry be louder if we were talking about George W. Bush?

That will be debated when we come back.


BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story this hour. We have new insight into President Obama's use of drone strikes against American citizens and defenders of civil liberties are sounding the alarm. They believe it's way too easy for suspected American terrorists overseas to land on the president's kill list.

It's time for a debate here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're joined by two guests. Cliff May is the president of the Foundation for the Defense of democracies. Congressman Keith Ellison is a Democrat of Minnesota. Gentlemen, thanks to both of you for coming in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. BLITZER: And let me read from this Justice Department memo that was leaked. This is out there. "The condition that an operational leader presents an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future."

Is that OK with you?

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: You know, it really bends the definition of what "imminent" actually means. I do agree with the use of the word "imminent." But I think imminent means close proximity in time to the attack. And that the person has some real meaningful planning behind what...

BLITZER: But is it OK for the United States to kill U.S. citizens without any judicial procedure whatsoever?

ELLISON: That's very concerning to me. I think in a situation where an American citizen is posing an immediate threat to national security, is going to kill Americans right away, I think that it is lawful, and it is sound to take action to protect American lives.

BLITZER: To kill...

ELLISON: To take measures to protect American lives. Up and to including deadly force.

But what I mean is, close proximity, real planning, not, you know, some sort of highly attenuated thing. And so I think that we've got to tighten it up much more than it's been laid out in this memo that I read.

BOLDUAN: What do you think? The congressman says it needs to be tightened up, the kind of vague use of what "imminent" is now, it goes too far. I mean, where are the boundaries?

CLIFF MAY, PRESIDENT, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Well, look, the language that we've seen so far is a little bit vague. There are legal memos written by the Justice Department on this kind of killing, just like there were legal memos written under the Bush administration about the use of torture and what constitutes torture and doesn't.

I think it's justifiable for members of Congress, at least some of them, to say, we want to see these -- this judicial reasoning. We want to see what the Justice Department's come up with, and review it ourselves.

I think it's -- two things are important. One is, I think we do need to use drones in this war. I think if an American is a member of al Qaeda and that is clearly established and he's hiding some place like Yemen, you get to use a drone against him.

BLITZER: Let's be specific. I know you supported the killing of Anwar al Awlaki, a U.S. citizen. There were other U.S. citizens that were killed. Do you support the killing of U.S. citizens the way the U.S. killed, for example, Anwar al-Awlaki? Should he have been targeted for assassination?

ELLISON: Wolf, first of all, let's establish that Anwar al- Awlaki is a despicable human being.

BLITZER: Should he have been targeted for assassination?

ELLISON: I know. I just want to be clear where I am on him to begin with. But I -- but it raises real questions for me. As I already mentioned a moment ago, if he was imminently about to commit an act of terror against Americans, I think -- I think that it would be justifiable. But if it was an attenuated thing, if they...

BLITZER: He was inspiring American -- he was inspiring people to kill Americans, but he wasn't exactly out there killing Americans himself. He was on Web sites doing it.

ELLISON: If they could have feasibly arrested Anwar al-Awlaki, they should have done so.

BLITZER: They couldn't.

ELLISON: Well, how do we know that? I mean, the reality is, they knew where he was. They knew how to attack him. Now again, I'm not going to second-guess the Anwar al-Awlaki case, because I don't know all the facts there.

But I will say, if they could have feasibly done it, and if he was not imminently about to go kill Americans, I've got real concerns.

MAY: Two points: one, due process is only the process that is due if the process that is due not necessarily a judicial process -- that's what Eric Holder said, and I think he's quite right. Anwar al- Awlaki is out planning and plotting terrorist acts and helping to facilitate terrorist acts, I think it's OK to strike him, and I don't think you have to wait until it's one minute before he's about to launch an attack.

ELLISON: I didn't say one minute.

MAY: Well, your question is, and you're right on this, Congressman, what does imminent mean and how do you define it? It's kind of loosy-goosy here.

The other question is -- and you raised this point, rightly -- is what does it mean to be unfeasible to capture him? Unfeasible. Does that mean difficult? Does that mean inconvenient? We have a president now who doesn't want to capture somebody and put them in Guantanamo. Would he rather kill them? If he would rather kill them but could capture them but doesn't want to put them in Guantanamo, that doesn't seem to be unfeasible and that is a little bit problematic.

So one thing we should do, and I think you should do and other members of Congress, you have a different kind of war. We may need different kinds of laws. We haven't been creating them.

This is neither a criminal justice case, nor is it the kind of war we had in World War II, where you could kill somebody on the battlefield without getting a subpoena or a lawyer or a judge's permission. We probably need some different rules and regulations, oversight, but not a veto...

ELLISON: I have to say, I do think we are in a different set of circumstances. But I don't think that we should ever, as America, say we don't believe in due process anymore, we don't believe in basic standards of justice, and we don't believe in trials. I think trials work.

And as a matter of fact, we tried a lot of terrorists in regular old federal district courts, in the United States. And I think that...

BLITZER: Here's the argument -- here's the argument, Congressman, that a lot of Republicans are saying. If George W. Bush were targeting American citizens without any due process, you on the left would be outraged, but you're trying to protect the president who's doing it.

ELLISON: Well, as you know...

BOLDUAN: Or similar to the outrage over the torture...

ELLISON: ... I just wrote an op-ed...

BLITZER: When I say you, I mean, those who are.

ELLISON: Right. But I -- but I guess this is an occasion where, yes, I'm a supporter of Barack Obama, but that does not mean that I'm not willing to call into question this policy, and I have. And I will continue to do so.

To the president's credit, though, he has said he needs Congress to have input on this and to help set up a legal architecture, which I don't think we have. And I worry about, you know, the flip side. Look, we're not always going to be able to monopolize weaponized drones. Other countries are going to...

BOLDUAN: You think it's inviting...

ELLISON: Well, yes. So why now? Why don't we lead? Why don't we lead justly? Because at one point, we're going to need international protocols on how to use this technology, and we are going to wish that we had taken the lead and said what are we -- how are we going to...

BLITZER: A quick yes or no from both of you. Cliff, first for you. Adam Gadahn, the propagandist from California who's working and inspiring al Qaeda operatives out there, should the U.S. kill him?

MAY: Under the law, as it's now written as we understand it, President Obama would be justified to do that. He's an al Qaeda commander involved in terrorism. I think that would be justified. If President Obama took that decision upon reflection, I think I would support it.

BLITZER: What do you think, Congressman?

ELLISON: I'm very disturbed about that kind of action. But, again, you know, these things are fact bound. They're uniquely suited to the factual situation. But I would be very concerned about killing a U.S. citizen that was not immediately about to commit an act of terrorism.

BLITZER: Good discussion. Guys, thank you for coming in. This debate is not going away.


ELLISON: No, it won't.

BLITZER: Not that long ago, gas prices took a very welcome dip. So what's happened all of a sudden? Stand by for what you need to know about the latest spike in prices.


BLITZER: We all know that rising gas prices certainly make it harder to stick to a budget, but there may be an even bigger toll on your finances than you think.

BOLDUAN: Yes, just take a look at these numbers. Americans are pumping about 4 percent of their incomes into buying gasoline. That's according to the Energy Department. And each household spent, on average, $2,912 on just gas last year. And the prices just keep climbing.

Our Paul Vercammen is in Los Angeles for us this evening, where the pain at the pump is especially bad right now. What are you seeing, Paul?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Kate and Wolf. And also, Californians get hammered by high gas taxes: 67 cents a gallon. That's the second highest in the nation behind New York, and the people pulling into this station say this is just ridiculous.


VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Downtown Los Angeles is jammed with drivers but not gas stations. Here, it's a soul-crushing $5 a gallon for regular.

(on camera): I noticed you just spent $50 for just under ten gallons of gas. How are you feeling?

DIANA GRIFFITHS, L.A. DRIVER: I'm actually shocked. I expected it to be about $4.02 today, and then I drove up here and saw it's $5.02, but I ran out of gas, and my light was on. I had no choice. VERCAMMEN (voice-over): So what's driving up gas prices?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The spike is caused by two things. The rapid run-up in crude oil prices and by refinery maintenance on the west coast and the transition to the summer grade of gasoline.

VERCAMMEN: Those surging oil prices are the biggest component of gas prices, and they are rising, partly because of a sense the economy is getting better.

And the annual refinery maintenance usually finishes up in the fourth quarter each year, so analyst Hackett predicts gas prices will drop back down when production ramps up.

But there's more highway misery. A Texas A&M study reports American commuters spend an average of 38 hours a year, and in 2011 alone, more than $800, wasting time and money stuck in traffic.

MYRON TENNESON, L.A. DRIVER: I work in West L.A., so every light, it's a stop. A 30-minute drive in the morning is about an hour and a half, just because of the traffic scene. And then the gas prices on top of it, it just makes it worse, because you're not moving.

VERCAMMEN: L.A.'s bus riders are thrilled not to be behind the wheel.

MALKA FENYVESI, BUS RIDER: I was getting off the bus, and I looked up and I thought, I don't think I've ever seen gas prices over $5 a gallon. And I remember when I started to drive and gas prices were under $1.

VERCAMMEN: Hard to fathom where AAA says Californians are now paying an average of $3.93 each precious gallon of regular.


VERCAMMEN: And apparently, some of these prices are driving some Californians to smoking. One gentleman whipped through here. He said, "I'm not paying $5 for gas, but I do need a carton of cigarettes" -- Wolf, Kate.

BOLDUAN: It's just the way it is some days. Paul, thank you so much. Paul Vercammen in L.A. for us this evening.

Wolf, as Paul was talking, I was realizing, just this morning, my low gaslight went on in my car, as well.

BLITZER: You better fill up that tank on the way home.

BOLDUAN: Unfortunately so.

BLITZER: Today's banner headlines over England are about a king who's been dead for more than 500 years. We're going to tell you what's new about Richard III.

And later, something you should never, ever do to a judge.


BLITZER: Who would have guessed that a dead 15th century British king would become a global sensation in the 21st century? The buzz around Richard III is only growing today, now that his face has been reconstructed from his newly discovered remains. Here's our royal correspondent, Max Foster.


MAX FOSTER, ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this started off as quite a small dig with some local archaeologists, but it's a story that really has captivated the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome back to "Early Start." New this morning, a team of scientists unveiling the face of long-lost British King Richard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he's an infamous royal arch villain. We're talking about Richard III.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Archaeologists in Britain say they found the remains of King Richard III.

FOSTER: There are some stories that get people talking and this was one of them. A king found in a parking lot more than 500 years after he was killed in battle.

Then you dig deeper and you look at how he was demonized by the revered playwright, William Shakespeare, as an arch villain with a hunch back who probably killed his nephews so they couldn't take the throne.

He may have been an English king, but he sparked a global fascination. This map shows where people have been tweeting with the hash tag #RichardIII around the world. And let's take you here to North America, and the local newspaper, because this story was front- page news in Philadelphia, as it was in China. And in South Africa, the "Pretoria News" describes a 500-year mystery about Richard's final resting place at last being solved.

RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS, ROYAL COMMENTATOR: The reason -- one of the reasons that Richard has become such a monster legend is it was alleged by Shakespeare and Sir Thomas More that he was a deformed monster. He was certainly deformed. Whether he was as deformed in mind as he undoubtedly was in body will remain a subject of fierce debate.

FOSTER: When his bones were found in a lost grave in the most mundane of settings, we learned something new about a legendary character who was one of the most studied characters in European history. We only had portraits before. But now we have a reconstruction of his face based on his actual skull.

It feels we're a little closer to Richard, whose story is one of murder, mystery and the ultimate fall from grace. Seems like Shakespeare might have been on the right tracks after all.

(on camera): Shakespeare was accused of being part of a conspiracy to demonize Richard III, but these latest findings actually do back up his case -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Just got ahold of FBI photos from the scene of that Alabama hostage crisis taken before the dramatic rescue. Take a look at these pictures.

This one shows a tent covering the bunker where the 5-year-old Ethan was held for nearly a week until his rescue. He turns 6, by the way, tomorrow.

Here you see hostage negotiators using a pipe to communicate with the kidnapper, Jimmy Dikes, who later was -- you know, later was killed.

BOLDUAN: This evening, CNN's Erin Burnett is taking a look at this very story, digging deeper on this amazing operation to rescue this young Ethan. Erin, what are you guys looking at?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: We have the kind of minute by minute, Kate, of what happened, and it is pretty incredible, when you just see that picture there of the pipe and how they were communicating with Jimmy Lee Dikes, who had taken 5-year-old Ethan hostage for nearly a week. The sort of tick by tick of exactly what happened. It's a pretty incredible story.

And we're going to be joined by the principal of Ethan's school, a man who knows the little boy well. We're going to find out more about Ethan as we have reported. He had suffered from Asperger's and was obviously struggling during this past week. So we're going to get a lot more on him ahead of his birthday tomorrow.

And we're going to be talking about the big vote for the Boy Scouts. I know you all were talking a little bit about this. And we have the numbers on just how influential Mormons are in the Boy Scouts in terms of money and in terms of the number of Boy Scouts, and it's pretty stunning. This decision really could come down to the Mormon Church.

Back to you guys.

BOLDUAN: "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts at the top of the hour. A great show. We'll see you in a bit. Thanks.

BLITZER: The voice of the 1960s classic hit and karaoke staple has died. Even if you're not familiar with Reg Presley or his band, the Troggs, you've probably heard this.




BLITZER: That's Reg Presley and the Troggs performing "Wild Thing" back in the day. The British invasion band was an inspiration for some other legendary groups, including the Ramones and R.E.M.

Reg Presley died at his home in Britain after a battle with lung cancer. He was 71 years old.

BOLDUAN: Might not know his name, but you love that song. "Wild Thing," Wolf's favorite song.

BLITZER: You make my heart sing.

BOLDUAN: Don't start singing yet.

Still ahead, a woman already was in enough trouble to be hauled into a courtroom, but as you're about to see, things got a whole lot worse when she made a shockingly disrespectful gesture to that judge.


BLITZER: All right, Kate. Note to self: listen very carefully. Never use obscene gestures or foul language when standing before the judge, especially in court.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I mean, or just don't do it at all. But especially in court. Well, apparently a young Florida woman did not get that memo. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Do not, repeat, do not try this in court.



MOOS: Eighteen-year-old Penelope Soto didn't just flip the judge the bird right off the bat. She built up to it. Charged with possession of Xanax, she and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jorge Rodriguez- Chomat got off to a rocky start at this bail hearing.

SOTO: I own a lot of jewelry, all right.

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: How much would you say your jewelry's worth? It's not a joke, you know? We're not in a club now.

MOOS: Soon it started to sound like a scene out of "My Cousin Vinny."

ED GWYNNE, ACTOR: You on drugs?

JOE PESCI, ACTOR: Drugs? No. I don't take drugs.

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: Have you had any kind of drugs in the last 24 hours?

SOTO: Actually, no.

MOOS: And Soto had no prior arrests, so the judge set bail at $5,000.


SOTO: Adios.

MOOS: But adios was a little too sassy.

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: Come back, ma'am. Come back.

MOOS: The judge upped the bail.

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: Bail bond will be $10,000.

SOTO: Are you serious?

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: I am serious. Adios.

MOOS: So Soto flipped the bird.


RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: Come back again.

MOOS: And the judge flipped.

SOTO: What's up?

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: I believe I heard you saying...

SOTO: Yes, I did. I'm not going to...

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: I believe -- did you say (EXPLETIVE DELETED) me?

SOTO: Actually, I...

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: Did you say that?

SOTO: Yes, sir, I did.

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: You did say that?

SOTO: I'm not going to lie.

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: I find you in contempt. Thirty days in the county jail.

MOOS: CNN's senior legal analyst says the punishment is on the harsh side but still normal.

JEFF TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: She was way outside those rules, and she had to live with the consequence.

MOOS: Soto's public defender had no comment.

(on camera): Of course, Penelope Soto wasn't the first defendant to let her fingers -- and I don't mean this finger -- do the talking.


MOOS: At her sentencing in 2010, actress Lindsay Lohan's eyes may have cried tears, but her middle fingernail cried "F.U." Who knows if it was directed at the court or the press. A judge's spokesperson said it didn't warrant a reaction.

GWYNNE: I'm holding you in contempt of court.

PESCI: There's a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) surprise.

GWYNNE: What did you say?

MOOS: Just don't say...

SOTO: Adios.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN...


MOOS: ... New York.


BLITZER: Don't do that in court.

BOLDUAN: You don't ever do that in court.


BURNETT: "OUTFRONT" next, it's Groundhog Day.